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Conversation Pieces

Vol. 85 — When Home, No Need to Cry

by Erin K. Wagner

$12 $10.00 (paperback)
$5.95 (e-book) EPUB
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Read a sample from the book.

A child spells away the changeling that haunts her. An Appalachian girl marries young and learns that men don’t die easy. A dying astronaut yearns to return to space and the alien dreams that crept inside her head. An old woman chases down her most elusive prey and realizes the hunt isn’t worth it. From sunny kitchens to arid Mars, this collection of stories traces the quiet things that haunt us, whether it be suspicions of neighbors, the failures of memory, or the ghosts of planets.

Praise for Erin K. Wagner's Fiction

“Wagner has a style both concise and occasionally rich, which conveys a sense of embeddedness to her tales (some bylined E K Wagner): what is surprising in her work is not the worlds naturalistically depicted but the subtle dramas she explores within them.”
 &mdashJohn Clute, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction


Wagner (An Unnatural Life) collects 10 speculative shorts loosely connected by a quietly brooding aesthetic and themes of how humanity is changed by brushes with the supernatural or extraterrestrial. “Blowflies” calls on the author’s Appalachian heritage and evokes a lonely mood, while “How to Tell the Future by Tea Leaves, Stars, and Cards” uses a child’s limited understanding of her weirdly unsettling environment to set a scene both luminous and stifling. The standout, “Blood & Formalin,” follows an embalmer in a time of war as he is confronted with what caring for the dead really means. The last three stories move the collection to outer space: an astronaut waits to die in a space shuttle in the title piece; the human population of Mars has developed a different sense of priorities than their Terran tourists in “A Planet Like Earth”; and “From That Sea of Time” takes readers to an entire planet abandoned in mournful memorial. Wagner’s writing seats itself deeply in each individual narrator’s perspective and explores the tension between individual agency and the undeniable pull of the strange. Readers are sure to be enthralled.  (Read the whole review)
  —Publishers Weekely, November, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-61976-232-9 (13 digit)
Publication Date: Oct 2022
paperback 126 pages